What's It Actually Like to Dance a Solo on Broadway?
Dance on Broadway is usually more about ensemble work than stealing the singular spotlight. That's true for most of The Cher Show, with Christopher Gattelli's choreography supporting the titular diva. But for one second-act number, dance takes center stage.
Enter Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, who steps out of the ensemble to captivate with a sensual solo to the song "Dark Lady." In a show stuffed with catchy pop songs and dizzying costume changes, it's a scene unlike any other: The lead actors drop back, and Fitzgerald becomes the sole focus as she's partnered by a bevy of men and spends much of the number in the air. On the night I attended, her electric stage presence resulted in the longest applause of the evening, aside from the curtain call. We spoke with Fitzgerald about being in The Cher Show and commanding the stage with this literal show-stopper.
Ashley Blair Fitzgerald
How She Booked the Show
"I went to the invited dance call, and over the course of four months was called back five times to dance, read and sing. Three weeks before the lab started, I got the call!"
On Working with Gattelli
"Chris encourages an ego-free, collaborative experience. If something didn't work he never made me feel inferior. He would just say, 'Okay, how can we make it work for you and your body?' Because he worked like this, I gave him my complete trust."
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein
About That Solo
"Being given the opportunity to do what you love, on a Broadway stage, is a monumental experience. It's taught me the value in being part of a creation. Performing something that you feel a part of is really a dream come true."
On Choreography That Travels Through Time
"The different dance styles are what makes this show fun. One moment you're doing a '60s twist, the next you're a Vegas showgirl. We did our research to make sure we were executing the intention of the step correctly, which has allowed our bodies to live injury-free within the steps."
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein
Her Pre-Show Ritual
"Sixty minutes before curtain, I go down to the concession area and give myself a full ballet barre. I love to listen to Adele, Fleetwood Mac or Etta James. The music really helps clear my mind.
"Then I do about 10 to 15 minutes of spot-training for injuries and maintenance, which includes lots of bridges, stretching and crunches! At intermission, I repeat the spot-training. Just before I take the stage for 'Dark Lady,' I run through the dance, stretch my legs and say a prayer for the dance to go well and that no one gets hurt."
"In the second act we have a reporter/paparazzi scene where the ensemble is used as a silhouette. Since the opening of the show, myself and two other cast members have made up a completely fake news company, with fake names and fake stories. We're currently working on a story about a 'duckefant.' The first ever duck/elephant hybrid animal. It's so silly but it keeps things fresh and fun."
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein
The Most Challenging Part of the Show
"We have an action-packed finale with many different dance styles, including something called 'theater street jazz.' Grasping this style has been the biggest challenge for me. Every performance I try to execute it better than the last. However, I sometimes feel I come up short. But I will never stop trying!"
Fitzgerald's Advice for Broadway Hopefuls
1. Train. "There are no shortcuts to technique. It will help you with injury prevention, prolong your career and allow you to dance any type of style."
2. Step outside your comfort zone. "Take an acting class, a voice class. Dancing is acting with your body. This will help you tell the story."
3. Take risks, but stay grounded. "Trust your choreographers and coaches. It takes courage, but if you do the work, magic can happen."
- Ashley Blair Fitzgerald Theatre Credits, News, Bio and Photos ›
- Ashley Blair Fitzgerald – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB ›
- 10 Questions with The Cher Show's Dark Lady, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald ›
- Ashley Blair Fitzgerald | Playbill ›
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.